The Allisons are a very active family. My wife, Zoraida, does yoga and runs; my oldest child, Charlie (10 years old), plays flag football, basketball, lacrosse and does track and field; my youngest, Isabella (5 years old), loves playing soccer and doing track as well. I have been running literally since I’ve been 6 years old and really have never stopped (I will be 44 in May of this year). I competed as a kid in club track and cross country, competed in middle school, hold a few school records still in high school and was recruited and ran 4 years Division I track and cross country for the University of Pennsylvania. As an adult I have competed in road 5Ks, 10Ks, trekked through trail races, raced half marathons, marathons, competed in masters track meets and participated on long distance team relays (like the Ragnar Relay series). Moreover, I have had a running coaching business (www.marathoncoahaz.com) for over 7 years and started a youth, open and masters USATF track club last year (www.phoenxtrackclub.com) out here in Phoenix, AZ. So being a Fit Father is first nature!
Zoraida and I believe in living a balanced life, period. That Roman saying “A sound mind in a sound body” is sort of what we have taught our kids as well. While education takes precedence over sports and fitness, we know that you need both to be grounded, happy and confident as one traverses through life. My son also plays guitar, which we love as well. Adding art into his daily life allows yet another perspective to view and understand the world, which my wife and I both find will be helpful in defining who he will become as a young man.
I feel fortunate that my kids enjoy being active. I think while both my children are good athletes naturally, we don’t pin our hopes and dreams on them in getting athletic scholarships, making the Olympics or becoming professional athletes as I see many parents do in our current culture. I have no objections if they can attain such rewards due to their athletic prowess, but I am more concerned that they take away what sports and being active will give them throughout their entire life: a healthy and fit body, the benefits of working together as a team, showing good sportsmanship, understanding how to deal with stress, believing in yourself, pushing yourself to your limits, a positive outlook on life, self-respect and having good body image.
Our family truly enjoys playing together and we are a competitive bunch – but in a good-spirited fashion. We laugh our way through many family games or competitions. And this is what I love about our family – that we share this joy of sport, fitness and competition.
There are three tiers of why one should exercise in my opinion:
Tier one: Becoming fit and healthy
Tier two: Challenging yourself physically
Tier three: To see how you compare against others physically
We all should strive for tier one. Tier two, if you do that, will give you confidence in all aspects of your life. Don’t believe me? Have you ever seen the confidence of a person who finishes his or her first marathon – life changing! Tier three, while some would argue competition is not essential for everyone, I would politely have to disagree. There is something about being proverbially naked in the competition arena and seeing what your mettle is. There is no shame in losing – only shame in never trying. This is what my family attempts to embody on a daily basis when it comes to fitness and sports.